Affording America's pasttime


Minor leagues offer major fun at lower prices


photo courtesy of Kane County Kougars Junior fans reach for a fly ball at a Kane County Cougars game.

Take your family out to the ball game and you take out your wallet. At a major league game, seats near the field run $28-$40 each. The cheap seats are $12-$16 each, yet they offer views barely better than television.

But the majors are not the only game in town.

"Everything is cheaper at the minors, from tickets to parking to beer. Good seats at a Cubs game might be $30 or more each. For that, you can get a whole family into a minor league game," says Dave Kaiser, father of a toddler.

"I took 20 people to see the Kane County Cougars for my wife's birthday. Each person got a lawn seat, a commemorative ball and a coupon for a hot dog and drink, all for less than $200 total. My wife also got a T-shirt and an autographed ball."

Cost isn't the only advantage. These games have a festive, family-oriented atmosphere with trivia contests, on-field games, off-beat entertainment and roaming mascots. "I like the intimacy of the parks," says Chicago mom Beth Johnson. "They're not very big and there is more camaraderie in the stands. You're sitting around and talking baseball."

The area has two types of minor league games: Class-A and the Northern League. Affiliated with Major League Baseball, Class-A is a player's first stop on the road to the majors. The Northern League is an independent minor league organization. Here are the Chicago area minor teams. But please check the Web for season and schedules.

Kane County Cougars (Affiliate of the Oakland A's) (630) 232-8811; Phillip B. Elfstrom Stadium 34W002 Cherry Lane, Geneva Tickets: $8-10 seats, $7 lawn admission Parking: $2

Beloit Snappers (Affiliate of the Milwaukee Brewers) (888) 762-7248; Pohlman Field 2301 Skyline Dr., Beloit, Wis. Tickets: $6-7 reserved seats, $5 general admission, ages 14 and under are $1 less. Parking: Free

South Bend Silver Hawks (Affiliate of the Arizona Diamondbacks) (574) 235-9988; Coveleski Regional Stadium 501 W. South St., South Bend, Ind. Tickets: $5-7 for seats, $3 ages 14 and under; $3 lawn admission. Parking: $2

Schaumburg Flyers (Northern League) (877) 691-2255; Alexian Field 1999 Springinsguth Rd., Schaumburg Tickets: $9-10 seats, $5 bleachers or lawn. Parking: Free

Joliet Jackhammers (Northern League) (815) 726-2255; Silver Cross Field, One Mayor Art Schultz Dr., Joliet Tickets: $7-9 seats, $5 general lawn admission Parking: Free

Gary Southshore Railcats (Northern League) (219) 882-2255; U.S. Steel Yard, One Stadium Plaza, Gary, Ind. Tickets: Seats: $8-9, adults, $7-8 ages 3-13, free 2 and under; $5 outfield terrace. Parking: Free

Ann Scanlan


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